DAYTON, Ohio, March 13 – The GW men’s basketball team played well enough to beat some of the nation’s top teams this season, yet often came just short of actually doing so. Perhaps it was only fitting, then, that the Colonials ended their 2002-03 campaign with the same recurring theme.
After trailing No. 10 (Associated Press) Xavier by as many as 14 points in the second half of the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals March 13, the Colonials cut the Musketeers’ lead to three with seven minutes remaining only to lose by five, 78-73.
“We had a chance with a few free throws and lay-ups, and had we made those shots it could have been the difference in the game,” GW head coach Karl Hobbs said after the loss. “Down the stretch we had an opportunity to win the game and got the looks but the shots didn’t fall.”
Senior Chris Monroe led the Colonials with 22 points in the final game of his college career but could not counter a combined 47 points and 20 rebounds from Xavier senior David West and junior Romain Sato. The Colonials’ second leading scorer of the game, sophomore Tamal Forchion, had 15 points.
“It was real hard looking at the score late in the game,” Monroe said. “I saw we were down six and I was just hoping a miracle was going to come our way.”
But no such miracle occurred. After trailing 39-31 at halftime, GW continued to struggle until midway through the second half. A strong defensive effort brought the Colonials within single digits, but it was their offense that faltered in crunch time. GW could not execute on several crucial offensive chances and a late scoring push by Monroe came too late to keep his career alive.
Host Dayton was the eventual winner of the A-10 Tournament and joined Xavier and St. Joseph’s to represent the A-10 in the NCAA Tournament last week. All three teams were eliminated in the first or second rounds.
Before losing to Temple in the A-10 Tournament semifinals, Xavier expressed relief about getting rid of the Colonials, who played the Musketeers tough all season.
“They make you play ugly,” West said. “A lot of them thought they got robbed at our joint (in GW’s loss at Xavier March 1), so we knew we were going to have to play them very tough today.”
GW finished the season 12-17, a half game below last season’s 12-16 record, marking the program’s fourth consecutive year with 15 or more losses despite an improvement in competitiveness. Individual high notes of the season for the Colonials included Monroe becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer at 2,249 career points and freshman Mike Hall earning A-10 All Rookie Team honors.
The Colonials will lose Monroe but will return four starters next season.
“We look at the five players we brought in (this year) because they are strong student athletes,” Hobbs said. “They can academically excel at GW and they bring so much to the court. We are succeeding as a program and headed in the right direction.”